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Old 30th March 2005, 12:35 AM   #1
keyser is offline keyser  Netherlands
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Default Why do many recordings sound so bad?

Why do many recordings sound so bad?
In my experience a lot of music (especially pop music) is badly recorded. Some other recordings are very good. This means the technologie to make a good sounding recording is available. Then why are there still so many bad recordings? Obviously not only money is concerned here: even big (dollar) bands have bad sounding cd's.
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Old 30th March 2005, 02:12 AM   #2
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There was a previous thread on this subject. You might find it with some searching.

Basically, it's about equalization, compression and clipping.

We audiophile types (a few percent of the listening population) are the least concern of the pop and rock record labels. CDs need to sound acceptable on the crappy systems most people have. And, they need to sound acceptable in the not so quiet cars that many younger (the largest share of the market) people own.

With cars and the average car system, the car and road noise limits the potential dynamic range you can experience at reasonable listening levels. CDs are often compressed to limit the dynamic range to 60db or so. This brings the level of the quitest notes above the road noise without blowing your ears out with the loudest.

The need for compression also applies to city listening, with open windows (part of the year) and the attendant traffic noise which limits potential dynamic range. It's a noisy world out there.

Ditto, in general, for EQ and clipping.

This doesn't apply to classical music so we get decent recordings. Kids aren't listening to Vivaldi, I guarantee you that.

Of the people that I know, which is representative of an average cross section, only a few percent give a whit about quality equipment or recordings. And these days with the high prices of CDs a lot of younger people are doing the high compression MP3 thing so there is an advantage to a crummy, low resolution audio system. Judging from what I've seen, kids are only interested in angry lyrics, good lead guitar solos and the beat.

I'd give you links to some quality rock lists but my primary computer crashed and I may have lost them.
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Old 20th April 2005, 01:18 PM   #3
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I'd been wondering about that too. I'd put on a new CD and think 'hey, is there something wrong with my equipment? Maybe I ought to think about replacing my ageing speakers or something' Often there is far too much bass - but then I'll play something that I know is OK and no, there's nothing wrong with my equipment. It still sounds OK. Just another crummy recording. Sometimes I wish that my amp had tone controls....
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Old 20th April 2005, 01:32 PM   #4
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I once heard a famous recording engineer say: "Don't make it as good as possible, make it only as good as the customer wants!"

to avoid any misunderstandings: When he talks about his customers then he doesn't mean us the listeners, he is talking about the musicians and producers (i.e. the ones who pay him). Many of those seem to have either bad taste regarding sound or absolutely no idea at all what good sound is.

Regards

Charles

BTW: This is already an old topic, did you use the search button ???
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Old 20th April 2005, 01:38 PM   #5
jlsem is offline jlsem  United States
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There are plenty of mediocre classical recordings (cd's mostly). One of the conundrums of being an audiophile is that the better your equipment, the more revealing it is of badly recorded material. The good recordings can be astounding while poor ones are irritating.

John
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Old 20th April 2005, 01:47 PM   #6
keyser is offline keyser  Netherlands
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I've found recordings that sounded bad on my earlier system sometimes sound better on my now improved system. Some seem to become worse though. I find it strange that some recordings sound very good on my system, yet not special at all on a friends system, et vice versa. Both systems seem reasonably accurate to me, so I wonder what may cause this perceived difference. Is it real or imaginary?
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Old 20th April 2005, 02:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by keyser
Both systems seem reasonably accurate to me, so I wonder what may cause this perceived difference. Is it real or imaginary?
Uh...maybe it's because the systems are different?

I know there is a popular idea that great systems should converge to sound similar as they near perfection which seems like it should be true. The problem is that all systems are so far from perfect that they can still sound good while sounding very different from each other.
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Old 24th April 2005, 03:22 AM   #8
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Bill
If you can post quality rock tracks in whole or even part, Iíd really like to hear that. Hopefully the music is quality too.

Itís not a perfect solution but I think if so many engineers use compression, thereís a very good case for us audiophiles (particularly those few who have digital EQ) using dynamic range expansion (not the muddy old dbx 177 way).

And EQ too on 50%?? of music (better balance offsets loss of clarity)

And the better your system, the more it reveals bad recordings, IMO the more this is useful.

> musicians . . . Many of those seem to have either bad taste regarding sound or absolutely no idea at all what good sound is

Iíve been to some musiciansí houses and their systems were average to crap.

> there is a popular idea that great systems should converge to sound similar as they near perfection

Maybe among non-audiophiles, or the inexperienced. But hopefully here most of us know hifi is like beer, it can be great from Bavaria, Belgium, or Healesville, but it sure donít taste the same.

> The problem is that all systems are so far from perfect
How dare you say that about what Iím working on.
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